Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

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Source: Santa Barbara Police Department

On June 23, 2021, a multi-agency collaboration between Santa Barbara City Environmental Services and Streets Division, Santa Barbara Police, Amtrak Police, and Union Pacific Police conducted camp cleanups along the railroad tracks within the City of Santa Barbara yesterday. 

Since COVID struck last year, there has been a concern with homeless mobility and potentially spreading the virus to others within our community. When the Governor lifted restrictions last week, this allowed Officers to begin assisting with camp cleanups again in certain areas. This particular enforcement detail is unique, being that the railroad tracks are owned mostly by Union Pacific and are private property.

Starting from Castillo Street and moving east, Officers, Union Pacific crews, and Environmental Services walked the railroad tracks towards the eastern most reaching portion of the City near Channel Drive. Those found trespassing on the railroad’s private property were issued citations and asked to leave. All the individuals complied with the Officer's requests and packed up their belongs and left.

A total of 15 citations were issued. Citations ranged from 369(i) PC – Trespassing on Railroad Property to narcotic violations. Backhoes were used to collect nearly 5,500 pounds of remaining trash and debris that was hauled away with multiple trailers.

“The main goal is to protect lives. People walking, sleeping, and camping near the railroad tracks is extremely dangerous.” According to Operation Lifesaver Inc., a non-profit organization of rail safety education, California is ranked as the number one state for pedestrian trespassing casualties. As of April 2021, there have been 136 deaths and 117 injuries reported from the Federal Railroad Administration within the last year. These casualties are directly associated with individuals trespassing on the railroad right-of-way. Texas is listed as second, with 31 deaths and 60 injuries.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has partnered in the past with Amtrak Police for railroad safety, education, and enforcement details. These details focus on pedestrians trespassing on railroad property, as well as pedestrians and vehicles ducking under or driving around railroad crossing gate-arms found at roadway and sidewalk crossings. “If the gate-arms are down, lights are flashing, the bell is ringing, wait to cross, even if you don’t see a train approaching!”

In addition to the railroad cleanup, park closure enforcement is also being enforced again. Enforcement checks started last Friday at Alameda Park. Officers offer services to those who have erected tents or are camping in the park prior to any enforcement action occurring. Those who refuse services such as the use of local shelters, mental health services, or City Net of Santa Barbara can be issued a citation for illegal camping or remaining in a park after closing hours if they refuse to leave.

More cleanup efforts are expected to continue throughout the next several months. 

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bosco Jun 24, 2021 01:51 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Many probably will move to Goleta. Playing wac-a-mole isn't ideal. But at least they can't accumulate all that trash and it's likely to encourage many to move on. Leaving them alone is the worst thing for everyone, it let's them establish a camp, accumulate hazardous trash, and sends the message across the State that SB is the place to setup shop and not be bothered. With camps being cleared out in LA and across the State now is not the time to be known as city where you can camp for free.

Rypert Johnson Jun 24, 2021 01:35 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Hey, where is Food Not Bombs Isla Vista, Bonfire Collective, Eco-Vista and UCSB FTP during all this? Oops, I forgot, Santa Barbara is a city, not a special district run by the county like Isla Vista.
Much easier to seem like you are getting something done in a small district you can torment instead of an actual city.
But all jokes aside, seriously, why aren't these groups protesting this mass displacement? The kind of things that make you question the goals and integrity behind those groups.

Byzantium Jun 24, 2021 04:29 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Trona, CA is practically giving away houses and empty lots with hook-ups - liquor store and health clinic in town. Plenty of places to go and legally camp out in this state, when one has chosen to live by the railroad tracks or a free way overpass. Take that SSI check and call Trona you new and legal home.

Byzantium Jun 24, 2021 06:05 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

LA County Sheriff fed up with too many failed agencies and tax dollars doing nothing but enabling even more vagrant camps. ..........." “Failed policies, self-interest groups, and political agendas are enabling a national crisis to fester within our communities.”

Villanueva said he was drafting another letter to Mayor Garcetti “telling him to unhandcuff the LAPD” and allow law enforcement officers to do their jobs.

“There is a time where you just have to call people out and cut through the BS,” Villanueva said. “This is that moment in history for the entire region to say, ‘Enough is enough, let’s get the job done.’”........"

a-1624683911 Jun 25, 2021 10:05 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

You seem to be afraid to cite your source.
Please don't be! Sources are important. I read these:

ChemicalSuperFreak Jun 24, 2021 06:24 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

They need to salt the Earth after these cleanups. Scatter some huge boulders about so there's no level, open ground to place tents. These would be great places to relocate the debris they dredge from the creek beds.

Chip of SB Jun 25, 2021 07:31 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Nobody has suggested doing anything to help the people who were living in these camps. Writing them citations accomplishes nothing. Why don’t we take them into custody and put them into treatment/rehab programs? Nope, let’s just pretend their problems don’t exist instead. We can move them around and clear the occasional camp, but until we actually address the drug addiction and mental illness issue we will continue to see more of these “campers” in our community. It’s going to get much worse before it gets better, I guess our community still needs to hit rock bottom before people will open their minds to change.

Ahchooo Jun 25, 2021 08:11 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

I think a lot of people are in favor of treatment programs for addicted homeless people, but there are so many obstacles, we don’t know how to proceed. We need a lobbying group, an organizer, to get this going. It would be a huge battle to address the issue of the civil rights of the people who don’t want help. And then consider that there aren’t enough programs even for people who want help, or at least not affordable programs. Help!

Byzantium Jun 25, 2021 09:12 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Do victims of these vagrant camps (property owner and tax payers) have no civil rights to protect their own health and safety? The reason millions get spent and decades go by with no end to this issues is the entire approach is totally out of balance. All rights accrue to the vagrants and none to those charged with funding their life style choices, which includes sending them SSI checks they quickly turn into drugs as well as being their crime victims to also support their drug habits, as well a a multitude of other "free' social services that support their continued poor life style choices. Everything about vagrancy is totally upside down. Yes, we issue citations. Yes we push them out of public spaces they are abusing with fires, trash and gross environmental pollution. Because that is what we expect from everyone who lives here. No more free passes to vagrant squatters. Limits and rules freely imposed on every who comes to this area are the very first steps to take.

a-1624676739 Jun 25, 2021 08:05 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

What I meant, Ahchoo, is that there are dozens of agencies offering assistance. It's not that hard to find them. Having rehab spaces is another issue, as is whether the homeless want to take that step. I'm pro housing for really messed up people. Many won't come off drugs, alcohol included, easily or for a long time. I support housing that doesn't kick members out on their first fail. I try to help a little, I give money and goods. Not able to house or care for others, not in good physical shape.

Ann Beth Jun 25, 2021 08:39 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

This is more than a local problem and requires more funding from state/federal level, as well. Complex issue, but I hope task forces get established to solve it. It’s a disgrace that such a wealthy country hasn’t tackled this issue. Homelessness has now become a lifestyle.

Byzantium Jun 25, 2021 09:05 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Why do you make this someone else's fault (" a wealthy nation"0? Why not put the burden on hose making these destructive life style choices? That is why all these Homeless Inc "programs" fail - it is always someone else's fault, and thus the systems supposed to "help" easily get gamed.

Ann Beth Jun 25, 2021 11:51 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

My sister was one of the nurses serving the medical needs of the homeless for 7 years in SB. Her analysis was that 90% of the homeless suffer from mental illness. If they are “choosing the homeless” lifestyle, they aren’t making the choice with healthy cognitive functioning. There has always been a segment of every population with these mental problems. I’m just suggesting that as a society, we could be dealing with this better than we are.

Luvaduck Jun 25, 2021 09:22 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

We have become a Mecca for tourists on stolen bikes with their belongings in stolen grocery carts. The only solution is to separate the <won't works> from the <can't works> from the <can't work currently>. The last need medical care or job training and TEMPORARY shelter, the can't work evers need custodial care, the won't work contingent---looking around they seem to be the biggest group of new arrivals--needs supervised work thrust upon them after arrest for vagrancy and confined housing in a barracks with a mess hall & 5-minute showers while they work off their sentence. They should be treated like Marine recruits.

Bob From Ventura Jun 25, 2021 10:12 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

To keep the city vagrant-free, the police must relentlessly contact the vagrants and offer them services, and strictly enforce no camping laws. The vagrants will get the message and move someplace else where their tents, drug needles, feces, and trash are tolerated.

Curmudgeon Jun 25, 2021 10:15 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

In 1990, during a protest by "homeless" folk against the building of Paseo Nuevo, I asked a tanned and fit 20-something protester where he was from.

"San Diego," was his reply.

"So why did you come here and not stay homeless down there?" I asked,

I'll never forget his serious reply: "We get a better deal up here."

There you have it.

click2treat Jun 25, 2021 10:39 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

When I grew up, there was a SkidRow with missions and Single Room Occupancy Hotels. There were no tent cities. Then urban renewal replaced the "affordable" housing with freeways, and new commercial property. This happened across the US and we started having a "homeless problem." Manufacturing moved over seas. Wages did not keep pace with with the cost of housing. Today, my single mother and I wouldn't be living in sleeping rooms, we would be on the street. Not because of drugs or alcohol. But because the wages she earned as a hotel maid would not be enough to keep a roof over our head. It's satisfying to attribute homelessness to individual failings, but public policies have a great deal to do with today's world.

Byzantium Jun 25, 2021 11:06 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

In retrospect it was an error to clean up skid rows - they isolated these chronic problems and one could keep them from spreading into the wider community. Yes, the Garvey Hotel was a notorious hot spot. Way back in the 1970s. Then it became a Scientology Center which only proved their methods don't affect addictions either.

a-1624677322 Jun 25, 2021 08:15 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Thank you for sharing your viewpoint and experience.
As Roger and others have stated over the decades, and I know, Yes, Santa Barbara used to have SRO hotels.
It's mostly the economy. I'm only still in SB due to a family network.
The reverberations of the 2008 crisis /collapse DO still reverberate through the generations.
And economic equality since adds to it.
I get telling people to move away to where it's more affordable. If I had done so, no one would have been able to manage and do more than half the care my parents required in their last years.

I simply hope people realize it's an extremely complicated situation that goes beyond street criminals.
Like the Huntington's chorea victim, a homeless man, who I called the police about. Thank you, Officer Hove!

a-1624682705 Jun 25, 2021 09:45 PM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

How is LA's skid row not still a much larger but somewhat isolated area containing horrific chronic homeless problems? What do you read about state and national issues/problems?
We all can start here:
"As of a 2019 count, the population of the district was 4,757. Skid Row contains one of the largest stable populations (about 4,200–8,000) of homeless people in the United States and has been known for its condensed homeless population since the 1930s.",_Los_Angeles

Byzantium Jun 25, 2021 10:56 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Thank cartoonist Doonsbury for romanticizing vagrants and giving "rich" Santa Barbara a bad name for trying to oust them from the Fig Tree - a major drug-dealing stop for 101 truckers. This was decades a go, but Santa Barbara politicians played defense ever since, trying to down play any bad national publicity. Look what happened anyway. Lessons to be learn - pandering and false "compassion" only grew the problem. Now the city has an even worse reputation - the place to go for a guaranteed soft touch. Montecito and Hope Ranch may be "rich", but you don't see vagrants flocking to their vast and empty estates. But you do see these wealthier folks fund-raising for Homeless Inc as the full extent of their moral expiations. Today after decades of failed city policies, you only see even more vagrants now destroying the heart, soul and business of our relatively poor city instead.

Byzantium Jun 25, 2021 11:04 AM
Multiple Agencies Clean Up Homeless Camps in Santa Barbara

Do a search for <1980's Gary Trudeau Doonsbury> cartoons specific to "homeless" and Santa Barbara. That was 40 year ago of doing nothing but growing the problem, even though some of his cartoon characters like Emperor Leopold knew any demands for help was a wink and scam, even back then when the money getting tossed at the problem was in the thousands of dollars not the millions of dollars like today. Grand Jury needs to do a full audit and accounting for these past 40 years using tax dollars to grow vagrancy in our area.


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